Wednesday 7 December 2016

Man threw nine week old baby boy in the air with 'truly catastrophic' results

Hilary Duncanson

Published 10/03/2016 | 13:05

The High Court in Edinburgh
The High Court in Edinburgh

A man who repeatedly threw a nine-week-old boy in the air and shook him, resulting in "truly catastrophic" consequences for the child, has been jailed for four years.

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Jay Bell's actions in 2013 led to the baby sustaining bleeding on the brain, retinal haemorrhages and a fractured rib and ankle.

As a result of the brain injury, the child suffers from cerebral palsy, is registered blind and has difficulty using his limbs.

The baby did not receive hospital treatment for about two weeks and Bell took about five months to reveal what had happened to the child when he was in his care.

Bell, 23, last month pleaded guilty to two charges - one of culpable and reckless conduct towards the child to his severe injury, permanent impairment and to the danger of his life; and a second of wilfully neglecting the baby and failing to seek medical attention for him.

Passing sentence at the High Court in Edinburgh on Thursday, judge Paul Arthurson QC described the offences as "extremely serious".

The court heard that on July 26 2013, Bell threw the child in the air repeatedly but the baby struck his head on the wall, then hit a Moses basket and fell on the floor.

Bell - of Dougall Place, Mayfield, Dalkeith, Midlothian - then picked him up and shook him repeatedly until he began to cry.

The court heard the child was eventually admitted to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children on August 10 2013 and it took Bell until December that year to disclose fully what had happened to the baby.

The judge told Bell: "Through your conduct, a nine-week-old child who was in your care sustained bleeding on the brain, retinal haemorrhages and skeletal fractures - namely a fractured rib and a fractured ankle.

"As a result of the brain injury, the child suffers from cerebral palsy and is registered blind. He cannot sit unaided, he has difficulty in using his limbs.

"These medical consequences, all caused as a result of your conduct, are and will continue to be devastating for the child and for his mother who cares for him."

Had the child gone to hospital straight after suffering the brain injury, medical intervention may have limited the impact of that injury, the judge said.

The court heard that Bell has a criminal record - four groups of convictions incorporating nine offences in total, all dated after the offences being dealt with by the judge.

In the current case, prosecutors accepted that while Bell's conduct was culpable and reckless, it lacked the wicked intent of an assault.

Defence counsel John Keenan said Bell never set out to harm the youngster.

He has shown remorse and is having "extreme difficulty" coming to terms with what happened, the solicitor advocate said.

He told the court: "He knows his conduct was completely reckless, to behave in that way with a young child of this age, to play with the child in that way.

"There wasn't any malicious act on his part. It wasn't designed to cause any harm or injury."

Judge Arthurson said Bell's culpability was at the lower end of the scale.

"I accept that while the consequences for the child were truly catastrophic, these were not intended by you," he told Bell.

"Nevertheless, taking into account your position of care and trust and the extreme vulnerability of the child ... the only appropriate disposal for the offences is a substantial custodial one."

Press Association

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